Western Colorado residents cheer the survival of methane capture rule
Grassroots power wins the day for taxpayers and clean air!
Grand Junction— Western Colorado Congress and Citizens for Clean Air celebrated today as the clock ran out on the Senate’s ability to repeal an Obama administration rule that requires oil and gas companies to capture methane gas from operations on public and tribal lands. Early this morning, the Senate voted 51-49 to halt debate on the resolution to repeal the BLM Methane Waste Reduction Rule.
Senator Bennet voted against the motion to debate the rule, but Senator Gardner voted to allow the motion to continue. Senator Gardner remained publicly undecided on the rule till the end and as of this morning, it is still unknown how he would have voted had the debate continued.
“Western Colorado Congress and our members across the region are pleased to see the Senate, including our own Colorado Senator Bennet, side with taxpayers and public land owners across the country to keep the BLM methane rule intact,” said Rodger Steen of Western Colorado Congress.”However, we are disappointed to see Senator Gardner fail to stand with Coloradans on this- his vote to continue debate on the rule certainly gives the impression he was ready to kill it.”
“This rule has wide spread support from people across the West and across the political spectrum. It saves taxpayers money on lost royalties that are literally being flared, leaked, and vented into the air from public oil and gas leases on public lands. The only real entity opposing the rule was the industry, which spent millions of dollars trying to kill it. It is good to see that common sense protections supported by a majority of people across the country can still win the day in Congress,” Steen concluded.
The Colorado State of the Rockies reported that 83% of Coloradans and 81% of people across the Western states supported keeping the rule in place. Despite the obvious support of the rule, industry groups have spent an estimated $100 million in lobbying efforts to kill the rule.
“An added benefit of the rule is that methane and toxic wastes will be captured instead of released into the air we breathe,” said Karen Sjoberg, chair of Citizens for Clean Air in Grand Junction. “We are grateful that the rule remains intact and can help cut down on cross-border air pollution from neighboring states like Utah, which do not have state rules to limit methane. This is a win for air quality in western Colorado.”
Recent air quality reports from the American Lung Association show that Colorado counties bordering other oil and gas producing states, such as Rio Blanco next to Utah and La Plata next to New Mexico, have high levels of ozone, caused primarily by venting and leaking of natural gas wells with poor emission controls.
Colorado’s Senator Cory Gardner was a key vote on the issue but it was Senator McCain (R- A) & Senator Heide Heitkamp (D-ND) who were the surprise swing votes that halted the motion. Senator Michael Bennet staunchly supported the rule throughout the process and cast the deciding vote to stop debate on the rule.
Both organizations expressed gratitude to Sen. Bennet for his support of the rule and look forward to working with political leaders on all levels to keep the rule safe from further attacks.